“He Emptied Himself”

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Philippians 2:1-11

It became known as “The Case of the Coffee Shop”.

It happened while I was at St. Paul’s Seminary in Ottawa during the 1980’s. In the seminary building, there was a common room that was set aside as a place for us to gather informally, chat or read the paper over coffee or tea.

A few seminarians proposed that some of the student council’s money be used to do some mild upgrades to the room, to give it a cozier and more inviting feel, in the hope that this would enhance a sense of community among the seminarians. It would be our own little “casse-croûte” or “coffee shop”. A few other seminarians objected to this, saying that we should be promoting a simpler lifestyle and that such an expense was unnecessary.  Soon the battle was joined.   Continue reading ““He Emptied Himself””

One In The Spirit

Pentecost (A): 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7; 12-13

“No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:3

Many Catholics in this country came from ethnic groups that have been here for generations. Some began to arrive in the great waves of immigration that began in the 1830’s – the Irish, the Germans, the French Canadians, the Italians. Others were descendants of Spanish and Portuguese settlers that had arrived in the Americas long before the English and French began to settle here.

All of these, however, had one thing in common – they were not “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant”. They had the wrong accents, the wrong customs, and the wrong religion. They usually arrived poor, if not destitute, and were seen by many Americans as bringers of disease and crime, and as a threat to American democracy. (Funny how some things do not change – and sad to see how the descendants of people so treated now treat new immigrants in the same way.) In a word, these Catholic immigrants had no status in American society.  Continue reading “One In The Spirit”

Humanity or People?

Monday of the First Week of Lent: Matthew 25:31-46

One day, on the Peanuts comic strip, Linus and Charlie Brown were having a discussion. Linus was telling Charlie Brown about someone else he didn’t like. Charlie Brown replied that God wants us to love humanity. Linus retorted, “I love humanity! It’s people I can’t stand!”

Sound familiar?

It’s very easy for us to proclaim our love for humanity, or the Church, in our heads. It’s easy to feel this love as long as ‘humanity’ or ‘Church’ is only a concept, an idea. The proof comes when we are with real people – people who have their wonderful gifts, and who also have their rough edges, their less appealing traits. People who annoy us in some way.  Continue reading “Humanity or People?”

Is Christ Divided?

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): 1 Cor 1:10-17

McDonald’s or Burger King? Ford or Chevy? The Beatles or the Stones? Apple or Android? The Patriots or the Steelers? Democrat or Republican? “Native” or “from away”?

We like to think of ourselves as mature, independent thinkers who follow our own path in life. This may be true at times, but in reality, we behave like sheep – or, like the turkeys in this photo. The world can feel like a big and scary place, where one could easily get lost or overwhelmed. We instinctively look for the safety of a group – a group in which we can feel at home. We look to this group for companionship, guidance and protection. The group becomes a big part of our self-definition.  Continue reading “Is Christ Divided?”